Deadset

New Diablo Zones in Patch 2.4 - Expansion Hints?

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In this article we take a look at the new zones that Diablo's Patch 2.4 will bring, and discuss the possibilities of a new expansion.

 

Diablo's Patch 2.4 was teased at BlizzCon and promptly released to the masses in a brand new PTR. We covered most of the announcements made at BlizzCon in an earlier article, and while new builds and item combinations are the lifeblood of the patch, it's the new zones that make the forefront impression. Check out our thoughts!


 

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The Royal Quarters let you take a peek into the private life of Leoric.

 

The Royal Quarters


 

We begin in Act I; the Royal Quarters can be reached by taking the Leoric's Manor Courtyard waypoint and heading right into the Manor interior. You will be greeted by a headless ghost at the entrance, one I can only assume is Queen Asylla, who suffered the guillotine at the order of King Leoric himself. She leads you to the right of the main staircase, into an area previously concealed by rubble and debris.

 

The Royal Quarters are reminiscent of the Cathedral interior, but with rich draperies instead of stained glass windows and cushioned chairs instead of hardwood pews. At its outer edges, the area ends in balconies overlooking Tristram in the distance. In its inner quarters, closer to the Northern Highlands, you can find a small armory with seemingly fixed position, size and contents: several armor and weapon racks, which can be a steady, quick source of reusable parts.

 

The only unique monster in the area I have noticed so far is Baxtrus, a skeletal summoner mage who is also a new bounty target.

 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Royal Quarters of Leoric's Manor contain the Tome of Set Dungeons; this inconspicuous lectern will provide you with a clue on finding the Set Dungeon for the respective class-specific set you are wearing at the time of opening it. (In the video for example, it provides me with Page 31 for a clue at the Akkhan Set Dungeon.)

 

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A chilly forest was the crucial piece missing to tie the cold theme of Act 3 together.

 

The Eternal Woods


 

The Eternal Woods are a branch of the Ruins of Sescheron, reached by walking right of the Sescheron waypoint. This snow-covered area is the wintery equivalent of the Highlands area in Act I, and will be a lovely throwback for older fans to the Frozen Tundra of Diablo 2. The area contains heaps of cold-modified undead and new wildlife, most notably the Glacial Yetis, the Frozen Corpses and Ice Porcupines. Unique monsters I have spotted so far in the area include Deadeye (an icy quill fiend) and the yeti Kashyyk (titled: Forest Dweller), a nice little reference to the forested home planet of the Wookies in the Star Wars universe.

 

Side areas include the Dismal Abode and The Icy Pit. Inside, the Dismal Abode is a retouched version of the abandoned hovels dotting the Act I landscape - the cellar of the Forlorn Farm from the Fields of Misery in particular - but with a chillier undertone. The Icy Pit is a one-level dungeon, akin to its bigger brothers Icefall Caves and Caverns of Frost.

 

This area has no significant storyline or game mechanics value that I could tell, except of course enrich the tileset pool. I can confirm that The Eternal Woods layouts are randomized into the Rifts and will be encountered during farming.

 

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Greyhollow Island is dark, gothic and foreboding - everything you might wish for in a Diablo zone.

 

Greyhollow Island


 

I have saved the best for last, the vast new Act V zone called Greyhollow Island. Unlike the previous two that only expand existing zones, Greyhollow Island is built from scratch with the richness and attention to detail of The Ruins of Sescheron from Patch 2.3. Not only that, but it slightly furthers the story of the game, but more on that in a bit.

 

Stylistically, elemental calamity is the pervasive theme on the island; a fitting comparison would be Path of Exile's Act I areas, where menacing woods are constantly battered by coastal storms. The bestiary is significantly expanded in this zone with wolf packs of Primeval Hunters, bursting Glowing Hives, ent-like Wildwood Bulwarks accompanied by Wood Specter minions, and the overgrown crustacean Flesh Harvesters. Thick mist creeps around, lightning strikes and fires set off uncontrollably; there is a persistent feeling of nature gone wrong.

 

We are greeted by the broken figure of Quentin Sharpe, a stranded explorer whose misfortune we slowly uncover from the penned description of his crew's descent into madness. Some of those journals are found in the Survivor's Cavern, whose entrance is shielded beneath a broken ship hull.

 

Ramshackle wooden bridges take you from the island exterior to the pivotal ruined tower, where we get a get a glimpse into the infernal religion that has gripped the island. Up to that point, it has only been hinted at by scattered ledgers and the haunted figures of madmen. In the Ancient Tower itself, we experience firsthand the ghostly remnants of Nereza's sacrificial religion.

 

While Nereza is not a common name in the universe, she has been mentioned before: in the vanilla campaign, Nereza is the demon who promises salvation from the waning powers of the Nephalem bloodline after the first altering of the Worldstone occurs. Seeing their children - the first actual humans - as weak and short-lived, the ancient Nephalem agree to Nereza's promises. She promptly betrays them, turning men into misshapen creatures that waged war on their progenitors and lead to the events of The Drowned Temple and the Last Stand of the Ancients (in the Festering Woods of Act I).

 

Apparently Nereza has not been idle, and has warped other places to her twisted vision - like Greyhollow Island. According to the lore tomes a hero, Rayeld, struck out against the demon and seemingly killed her; in true Diablo fashion however, he later regrets it and laments he has doomed his fellow men. In his last written record, Rayeld states he 'will do whatever it takes to keep the evil from spreading', a notion eerily similar to the hero of Diablo I before he entraps The Lord of Terror within him. There is reason to believe such an action turns Rayeld in the reincarnating Crazed Man, tending to the worship of a living and active Nereza even now.

 

Final Words


 

Has Nereza truly evaded death, as the cunning demons often do? Is this another chapter in the tales of downfall like Ruins of Sescheron was, and are there more to come? Will the perversion of nature that is Greyhollow Island spread and need tending from a Nephalem of a druidic, or necromantic disposition? The questions are many and your guess is as good as mine!

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